Happy Vardavar Day
Vardavar is a water and nature festival that dates back to pagan times. "Vard" means rose in Armenian and the legend has it that Astghik, the goddess of love and beauty, would spread love by sprinkling rose water over the land. After embracing Christianity in 301 AD, many pagan festivities were embraced and the festival still remains today. Usually in mid-July - just for one day - every person of every age is allowed to pour water on anyone they see including, and mostly, strangers. No one is allowed to feel offended on this day-well, except for my grandfather.
As I often go to Armenia at this particular time, I still need to be alert even when warned by locals to be careful. There was an instance where timing was everything and I organized a car to pick me up from one meeting to make a mad dash to get me to another appointment: there was the car right in front of my door as planned, ready to rush me through the traffic of the city, the door slightly open to let me in quickly . . . and, within seconds, a bucket of water was poured over me as the door was closing. There was another time on a one-way street when the taxi driver drove in reverse a whole block to drop me at my destination just to avoid the revealers. But, more often, I just join the fun and let the water pour and pour over me as I know there is nothing one can do.
My grandfather Antoine Dede lived next door to us and I never remembered him smiling to any of his grandchildren. He was not a mean man but he came from a school where dinner was served at 6 pm on the dot, the children were not allowed to speak at the table and laughing was frowned upon in his company. I used to be so afraid of those stern blue eyes and always stayed out of his path. However, on Vardavar, my older male cousins would hide on street corners with everyone in the family in on the game. Watching Antoine Dede from our windows getting soaked as he stepped out and his face turning red and furious would leave everyone crying from laughter. I still remember his yelling 'WHO WAS THAT?" I think, he never found out that it was his grandchildren. I think Dede was annoyed at anything he deemed frivolous, such as laughter, which just made us laugh even more.
So pick a day of your own choosing in one of these hot summer months and pour a bucket of love water on someone you know when they are least expecting it. It will be the ultimate test to see if that person can laugh with you. I assure you, my Dede passed the test for years as the ultimate cranky person.
Wishing you showers of love and a happy summer!
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